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Literature And Politics Go Hand In Hand.

Aparna Sinha
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Literature And Politics Go Hand In Hand.

Literature is political because man is political animal”- Olive senior

We often find literary fiction writers distancing themselves from politics. They do it consciously to avoid any discussion on, what is presumed, as politics, and to separate work of literature or art, from the same. Most of these writers prefer to call their works as personal and imaginative, with no intention to make a political statement; with no intent to stand behind or against an ideology. This statement is partly true; partly, because though the author writes his/her personal experiences, the characters and the settings depict the framework of society, of that time and era. Dynamics of the society is the outcome of the political structure at that time.

Writers are the witnesses of our society.

Literature is one of the arts, which recreates conscience of a period.  

In the Indian context the political influence in the Hindi literature can be largely noticed by the different poetic forms that were popular during that period- Veer Ras, at the time when India was under attack by Muslim rulers; the poems were meant to instill feeling of retaliation and encourage people to fight; when the chaos settled during the reign of Akbar, and prosperity prevailed, Sringaar and Bhakti Ras poems depicted romanticism and worship; second half of 19th century was Bhartendu yug or revivalist period, was about strong traditionalism; both Urdu and Hindi literature flourished in this period of retaining identity, when ruled by British. Chhayavad period, that followed, was of neo romanticism and nationalism; instilling the love for motherland- as the movement of Indian independence started taking shape.

1930 that started the period contemporary Hindi literature also marked the emergence of Indian English literature, wherein writers used the English language as a tool to communicate their message, on nationalism and spirituality, to the wider audience. The early India English literature was highly influenced by global politics and movements. Literature for next 30 years depicted the struggles and frustrations of Indians pre and post independence.

Literature reflects life. It limps, even crawls, behind events. This is especially so in periods of great social crisis and of historic convulsion.

Literature gives understanding of varied political situations of the given period, by sheer analysis of the society/situation a writer depicts in his/her writings; for example Franz Kafka’s writings help in understanding Max Weber’s ideas about bureaucratic structures; George Orwell’s dystopian style gives a glimpse of totalitarianism and authoritative regime; Milan Kundera’s novels tell us about reasons which may have led to falling of Communism in Eastern Europe. Among contemporary authors, Khaled Hosseini’s novels show the collapse of Afghanistan from a culturally rich nation to politically volatile, highly controlled terror hub.

Since literature presents the society and environment around the author; it must be viewed both as a branch of the fine arts and as an instrument of social influence because while reflecting the political systems and its outcome in the society, it also gives us account of things that are wrong with it and how to make it better. There are many books that have influenced global politics and brought social change; one of the most influential works ever written is The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, it sparked many revolutions, and also gave a lesson on how well-intentioned ideas can get really twisted by bad people. Other such books are, the art of war by Sun Tzu, Divine Comedy by Dante, The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli, 1984 George Orwell etc.

Literature is a powerful political tool for propaganda.

Soviet leader Joseph Stalin once described writers as “the engineers of the human soul.” He clearly believed that literature is a powerful political tool—and he was willing to execute writers whose works were deemed traitorous to the Soviet Union. At such times literature becomes a docile servant of an ideology; writers then put politics first and then life. No other medium has an ability to influence a human mind more than a book, hence it is required for strategic propaganda; or promoting ideologies and justifying actions (right/wrong); one such book that comes to mind is Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler- even though the book was criticized for its rhetoric and clumsy content; Hitler was able to present his ideology that led to his anti-Semitic beliefs.

Literature is an art of storytelling.

Storytellers, poets, writers, have always found ways of confronting tyranny, especially in spaces where such actions are dangerous and deadly- Chinua Achebe

Literature should not be consciously made political; politics is its innate virtue. As a writer, one must keep in mind, not be governed by the hands of any political party or ideology. Literature should not be confined; it should not only present the world as it is but what can become of it. A writer must be able to tell a story, without fearing the outcome, with a sole aim to reach the reader’s heart and soul. Politics and literature are inseparable. A writer must accept that and write more!

Aparna Sinha
A Full-time Author, Ashvamedha: The Game of Power is her first novel which was a big hit. Poet/An occasional blogger/Avid photographer/Part time philosopher /Suppose to be a marketing professional.